A little that a righteous man hath - literally, "Good is a little to the righteous, more than," etc. Our translation, however, has expressed the sense with sufficient accuracy. There are two things implied here:
(a) that it happens not unfrequently that the righteous have little of the wealth of this world; and
(b) that this little is to them of more real value, accompanied, as it is, with higher blessings, than the more abundant wealth which the wicked often possess.
It is better to have but little of this world' s goods with righteousness, than it is to have the riches of many wicked men - or the wealth which is often found in the possession of wicked men - with their ungodliness. It is not always true, indeed, that the righteous are poor; but if they are poor, their lot is more to be desired than that of the wicked man, though he is rich. Compare Luke 16:19-31.
Is better than the riches of many wicked - Of many wicked people. The small property of one truly good man, with his character and hopes, is of more value than would be the aggregate wealth of many rich wicked men with their character and prospects. The word rendered "riches" here - hâmôn - means properly noise, sound, as of rain or of a multitude of people; then, a multitude, a crowd of people; and then, a "multitude" of possessions; that is, riches or wealth. The allusion here is not, as Prof. Alexander supposes, to the tumult or bustle which often attends the acquisition of property, or to the disorder and disquiet which attends its possession, but simply to the "amount" considered as large, or as accumulated or brought together. It is true that its acquisition is often attended with bustle and noise; it is true that its possessor has not often the peace and calmness of mind which the man has who has a mere competence; but the simple thought here is that, in reference to the amount, or the actual possession, it is better, on the whole, to have what the poor, pious man has, than to have what many wicked men have, if it were all gathered together. It does more to make a man happy on earth; it furnishes a better prospect for the life to come.
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